If Joe Lhota is bummed about the expected outcome tonight, he isn’t showing in.
While most are predicting a blowout victory for Democrat Bill de Blasio, Mr. Lhota repeatedly insisted this morning he still thinks he can win, despite trailing by more than 40 points in the final public polls.
“I’m very optimistic,” he told Gerlado Rivera in a radio interview, citing what he described as a “groundswell of support” across the city in recent days.
“No, I’m not dismayed at all,” he added. “I’m working on my acceptance speech right now.”
The Republican mayoral underdog kicked off Election Day on friendly territory, campaigning outside of an Upper East Side subway stop with his former boss, Rudy Giuliani, who was greeted as a hero by many passersby.
“I’m feeling really good. I’m feeling optimistic. It’s gonna be a good night,” said Mr. Lhota, who appearing relaxed and in good spirits as he shook hands, posed for photos and urged rushed commuters to vote.
“Please vote today. I need you,” Mr. Lhota repeatedly said.
The reception was largely positive, with several telling Mr. Lhota they were Democrats who planned to cross the aisle for the first time to support him. “We’re rootin’ for you tonight, Joe,” said one rushed commuter. “Please save us,” another urged.
“I wish there was some way you could win today,” one woman lamented.
The frustration was echoed by others, including Kristen Smyth, 49, a Democrat who said she planned to vote for Mr. Lhota but was resigned to the fact he would likely lose.
“It just makes me sad. Because I feel like the campaign that de Blasio ran was very emotional. They played to surface issues,” she said, crediting Mr. de Blasio, but also faulting Mr. Lhota’s campaign. “It’s been a lot more low-key and it probably wasn’t that effective. I wish he had pushed more about his accomplishments in the MTA and things like that.”
Still Mr. Giuliani deflected questions about the prospect that Mr. Lhota could lose all boroughs, including Staten Island and echoed Mr. Lhota’s cheer.
“We’re focusing on winning tonight,” he said. “I think it’s gonna be a big surprise. I think Joe is gonna have a big victory and we’re all very, very optimistic.”
Later, Mr. Lhota headed home to Downtown Brooklyn, where he cast his ballot with his wife and daughter as a horde of photographers snapped.
“I’m looking forward tonight. I’m very optimistic,” he said outside of Congregation Mount Sinai, dismissing a question about what he’d learned from his first run for public office. “Why don’t you talk to me after the campaign is over?”